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Cyber Law in Pakistan

Analysis of Pakistan Cybercrime Bill 2015

Last year I attended a conference which was organized by the Pakistan Internet Security Association. Some government officials were also present at the occasion, who’d had prior experience in this field.  On Tuesday, Miss Anusha Rehman – Minister of IT, while talking to media said, “Our Government has prepared a cyber crime bill which will cause severe penalties to the offenders.” On Thursday, the National Assembly Standing Committee for IT approved the cyber crime bill and all that remains now is for this bill to be tabled at the National Assembly.

This bill is very controversial and has received a lot criticism countrywide. But isn’t it necessary to know what’s making this bill controversial? What clauses of the bill are needed to be reviewed again?

Section 3 & 4

It is stated that “if someone gets unauthorized access to the data then he/she will face punishment with imprisonment which may extend to 6 months and a fine of one hundred thousand rupees”. Now the question arises as to who will authorize the said person to get access to that file or the system? Or if someone verbally authorizes someone else for copying or editing the file but then denies that he gave permission? Surely we don’t have systems which have adequat Authorizing Protocols. Then how will we tackle this issue?

Section 12

In this section a statement reads “Whoever obtains, sells, possesses or transmits another person’s identity information, without lawful justification shall be punished with imprisonment.” Now, the question I want to pose is, where you defined “lawful justification”? It would be much better if they defined it in a better way, as to what is the legal use and what is illegal. A legal paper must be without any ambiguity. If someone shows my ID card without my permission, is this a crime?

Section 13

This section has some regulations for “illegal SIMs issuance.” Wouldn’t be better to address some offenses in the PTA act rather than the cyber crime bill? Surely the PTA act is more appropriate for such clauses.

Section 16

1422346360sscThe exact content of the Section 16 is shown above. The lines which have been struck out must be removed from the document, such as “Harms the reputation of a natural person” ,“Distorts the face of a natural person” etc. Sexual threats or any sexually explicit images of a natural person are vital to be addressed under this section. I do support the concept of freedom of speech except when it is used as a tool against any religion, religious personality or ethnic group etc.

Section 31

It states that “in the interest of the glory of Islam or the integrity, security or defense of Pakistan or any part thereof, friendly relations with foreign states, public order, decency or morality….” Who will decide what actually comes under the term “integrity” of the State? Who are Pakistan’s friends? What about the fluctuating relationship of Pakistan and America?

With all due respect I’d like to opine that Miss Anusha Rehman and Captain Safdar are completely irrelevant. The Prime Minister should assign tasks to the appropriate party or at least stop this cyber bill from being approved. Copy of the bill can be downloaded from here.


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